Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book Review: Longbourn by Jo Baker

On the bracket:

If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah thought, she would be more careful not to trudge through muddy fields.

It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House, and Sarah's hands are chapped and bleeding. Domestic life below stairs, ruled tenderly and forcefully by Mrs Hill the housekeeper, is about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new footman smelling of the sea, and bearing secrets.

For in Georgian England, there is a world the young ladies in the drawing room will never know, a world of poverty, love, and brutal war.


I am a crazy fan of Jane Austen, to me, no one surpasses her. This, I am not saying just by reading her books. Her books are okay when just read. But when your Literature professor is explaining how the times were and how even long back Austen's writing was revolutionary, you want to embrace her books even more. This is why, as a rule, I have abstained from reading any book inspired by Austen's novels.

Longbourn's blurb is very very interesting, and surprising. I have read Pride & Prejudice so many times, but ever ever wondered about the staff of the house. This is what caught my attention and I simply had to read this book. And it had already got rave reviews. One thing kept going through my mind - Can this be better than P&P?  Well, no. But what it is, is that it is a very good and competent complement to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Reading the story from the servant's point of view gave a whole new look at the Bennets. Whom we thought of as struggling and nice little girls, where actually quite spoilt. The servants spoken about in the book are five - Sarah, an intelligent girl who misses the her life from when her parents were alive, and longs to see the world outside of Longbourn someday; Mrs Hill the housekeeper, a very loyal one too, who is in charge of the day-to-day running of the household, keeping a watchful eye on everything; Mr Hill, the old and aging butler who isn't quite strong and able as he was when he was young; Polly the youngest of the female servants, she is an orphan who has always been a servant yet wasn't very good at it; and, James, the new recruit who is mysterious in many ways. James has an interest in Sarah, but is Sarah interested enough?

There is not part of the book which is not to love, it is a suitable tribute to Austen's original. And reading the much loved story from another perspective will only give more flight to your imagination and you will be spending more time with the Bennets.

Rating: ****.5/5

[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

1 comment:

  1. Hey this sounds so interesting. Going over to check it out at Flipkart.


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